Microsoft rings last bell for Windows 98, ME

Support will cease next month for several of Microsoft Corp.'s aging operating systems, saying continued use of the products pose security risks to customers.

Microsoft warned on Friday that customers face security risks if they use some of its aging operating systems after it ends support for them next month.

The systems affected are Windows 98, Windows 98 Second Edition and Windows Millennium Edition. Support will end on July 11, the next date for Microsoft's monthly security patches and software updates.

Security updates will also end, a posting on the Microsoft Security Response Center said. The blog posting is available at http://blogs.technet.com/msrc/archive/2006/06/09/434300.aspx.

Microsoft said it wasn't feasible to make extensive changes to Windows Explorer to eliminate a security vulnerability since the underlying architecture of Windows 2000 is much less robust, wrote Christopher Budd, a program manager with Microsoft's security response center.

"Due to these fundamental differences, these changes would require reengineering a significant amount of a critical core component of the operating system," Budd said.

As a result, applications may not run on the updated system, he said.

Microsoft advised those still using the operating systems put them behind a perimeter firewall that filters traffic on TCP port 139, which will block attempts to exploit the problem, Budd said.

Further, support for Windows XP Service Pack 1 will end on Oct. 10.

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